Newsletters

Newsletter #2


Dear friends and faithful subscribers,

Thank you for your patience. The unexpected illness and eventual death of George's father this spring delayed our plans for many months, but we are finally back on the road. Over the next six months we expect to bicycle 4,000 miles as we explore each county of the state of New Mexico. Our goal is to document that which cannot be found in travel guides---the pulse of the people. We will share the ingenious ways simple problems are solved; the trends, pleasures and difficulties of various life styles; and the evolution of the creative process in diverse communities where we stop to do art projects.

The newsletter will share the special experiences, people and places we discover that can only be experienced by taking time to travel slowly without the restraints of a predetermined schedule. Our choice to travel by bicycles seems to be a novelty which opens many doors. As we explore New Mexico, we hope to become a theme for schools throughout the state where students will be inspired to learn more about the cultures, history, and geography of New Mexico. Each newsletter will have Challenge Questions and Vocabulary Words that teachers can discuss with their students. Participants will learn about the natural resources of their own counties and will be invited to participate in a unique learning exchange. As a common theme for many followers, we hope PROJECT NEW MEXICO will build bridges within and between communities throughout the state.

If vicarious living is not your style, please join us along the way!

Your pedaling pals, George & Holly

Total miles so far: 276.
High temp: 95f.
Problems with Holly's bike so far: 1.

Socorro County
Miles ridden: 75
Towns visited: Magdalena
Places to visit: Very Large Aray (VLA) World's largest radio telescope.
Catron County
Miles ridden: 66
Towns visited: Datil, Pie Town
Cibola County
Miles ridden: 77
Towns visited: Fence Lake, Pine Hill
McKinley County
Miles ridden: 47 to Zuni
Towns visited: Ramah, Zuni
Places to visit: El Morro National Monument, which is an area, along a major east-west route, where ancient and European travelers would stop and leave their signiture on a dominant rock-face. Some of the Native American rock art may still be seen today.

ON THE ROAD AGAIN---George's Log

July 6, 1995

Hello everybody, this is Holly and George writing to you from the Magdalena Cafe. We finally got underway 5:30 pm on July 4th under the watchful eyes of channel 13 (CBS). Holly is proud to say she is totally caught up with her 3 years of past paper work and projects.

Our first night was spent behind the Water Canyon Lodge. (Fourteen miles outside Socorro). The climb up Sedillo hill didn't seem so bad after a cold beer at the landmark lodge. The family that lives at the Lodge treated us to a fireworks display that we viewed through the sky-light in our tent.

Magdalena offered us lots of old friends to visit, including the school principal who wants to get their kids involved with us on the internet . Our second night, after a dusty up-hill ride, was spent in a friends yard in Hop Canyon. The event for that night was a giant raccoon who ate the last of our raisins.

Challenge Questions:


July 9, 1995

The ride across the St. Augustine Plains was hot but a tail wind blew us into Datil for a visit with Carol and Kenneth Coker at the Eagle Guest Ranch. We learned that they are selling the business in a couple of weeks and are going to start enjoying their new freedom. After a night in Datil Wells campground it was west through Datil Canyon which is under major construction to make it a super highway.


Glimpses from the Road I --H

Wind fills my ears with its music Wind fills my ears with its music
I like to hear the different sounds it makes
As I turn my head....
Just slightly...
Its sound may roar or totally disappear.

As I pedal, the bike chain makes a constant hum,
But still it is much quieter than the whiz
Of passing cars and trucks.
A special treat they never hear
Is the delicate dance of the wind
Swirling through the leaves of
Warrior-like trees
Hugging the edge of the road.


North of Pie Town we got on our first dirt road. There is something special about riding on dirt roads that we both enjoy. We think it's a combination of the increased challenge that dirt and gravel add to your riding skills, and a feeling that you have stepped back a notch in time.

This road has some beautiful scenery and some great old ranches. In talking with several ranchers we learned that most have gone to 4 wheel ATV's.


July 9 con't.

Our camp that night showed how really dry the land is in this part of the country. We were able to start a small cook fire by just lighting a small twig with a match. The next morning's ride into Fence Lake couldn't have been more pleasant since we had a beautiful green valley to ride up. Fence Lake is kind of like Pie Town in that it is also loosing population but the existing residents wouldn't leave the towns they love.

Pine Hill, in Navajo country, was our next stop and where we met a Navajo artist who is a quadriplegic. He and Holly talked for a couple of hours which we feel was beneficial for all of us. We didn't get to see him paint but he told us he holds the brush in his mouth. He showed us some of his work and his talent is amazing. Tonight we are camped at El Morro National Park and will visit the Inscription Rock in the morning. In the afternoon we plan to visit the schools in Ramah, which educate the Navajo population. We expect to be in Zuni tomorrow night. The length of our stay there is unsure until we see if they want to participate in a community art project.....


How Small Towns Work --Holly

Since we enjoy traveling the back roads, we often wonder what it would be like to live in one. We took a long lunch break at Fence Lake, and by interviewing the store owner, learned that in a small town, when something needs doing, some one just does it. For example, the end of last year, the only store closed. Well Patricia felt the town needed a store, she didn't need a job and more work to do, but she had an empty building in a good location, so she opened a store. It carries a little bit of everything, and is opened every day. The next closest shopping is Gallup or Grants, about 65 miles away. Gas must be purchased at Pine Hill, about 25 miles away.

Fence Lake has about fifty residents. The town has monthly meetings to take care of business. Residents may pay an annual fee of ten dollars to vote on issues. They clean the cemetery twice a year, take care of the community center building , and what ever else comes up. Every other odd year Fence Lake has an Old Settlers Reunion with a fiddler's contest, pot luck, BBQ, and dance. It is a two day affair the last weekend of July with about 200 visitors.

The eight kids that live in Fence Lake take the bus to Quemado for school (K-12). Most of the 200 kids at that school ride over 40 miles to get there, so it has longer hours and is on a four day schedule. On this trip, we have met several parents with kids attending the Quemado school, they all seem to be very happy with it.

Utilities?...The town has a well which operates cooperatively. Residents pay a flat fee of $25 per month for all their water. The volunteer fire department has about 20 members, and was highly praised. Electricity comes from Socorro. Fence Lake is the end of the line for electricity, so many ranch residents between Fence Lake and Pine Hill are not serviced. When we traveled through this area we learned most use solar power. Fence Lake does not have natural gas, but several trucks with butane service the area. Television comes to those that have satellite dishes, Radio reception is good from many directions including Albuquerque, Gallup, El Paso, and Yuma.

Jobs?...The town has five state hiway employees, one and a half postal employees, and one job at the store. Everyone else ranches.

Fence Lake has a community church. Most everyone goes to church on Sundays at 10 o'clock. It is non denominational; different traveling preachers pass through, or the men just speak a few words.

For entertainment, there is a dance held once a month in the summer. Women all make different types of crafts including: jewelry making, quilting, crocheting, painting, furniture restoration, and ceramics. The men also seem to have different skills. There is a mechanic, a welder, and an electrician. If a new skill is needed, someone will learn it.

Today the few crops grown in the area include rye, oats, and alfalfa. In the past, Fence Lake was the Bean Capital of the southwest. They had a bean house where farmers from all the surrounding communities would bring their beans. They had three bars, and four or five cafes. Up until this year someone has always had a crop of beans, they just volunteered. But this year has been very dry, there is not a bean in town.

Fence Lake has seen a lot of changes over the years, but the residents we met were proud of their town and happy to be there. The one complaint was that Cibola County does not maintain their roads. They think things would be better if they were in the jurisdiction of Catron County instead.

Fence Lake lunch that lasted into the afternoon...a special recipe from George: (makes five sandwiches)

Assemble in order given. Holly's rating....DELICIOUS! (but maybe even better with a little lettuce.)

Challenge Question:


Glimpses from the Road II --H

As we road across the San Augustine plains, I imagined what it was like millions of years ago when this area was an inland sea. As we road across the San Augustine plains, I imagined what it was like millions of years ago when this area was an inland sea.

Now the earth is a dry powder. Weather is a favorite conversation among the locals. When will rain bring last year's short golden grass back to life?

As I return the stare of a big black bull taking refuge from the heat in the dark shade of a lone pinon, I wonder if he, too, is the end of an era?


July 11, 1995

We arrived in Zuni late yesterday afternoon. Our first encounter was with some young kids who showed us the famous old mission and where to buy 25 cent pop-sicles. This morning we got to meet with the Tribal Council. We were very impressed as we entered the large room with fine art work on the walls and 8 big desks in a long semi circle. We felt honored to meet the councilors, and welcomed as each wished us a nice stay in Zuni. Tomorrow we are having lunch with the Senior Citizens, and giving programs at the library and the Zee Center. (Multifaceted program which includes recycling, vocational training for developmentally disabled adults and public transportation.) Everyone has been very friendly, and we are optimistic about doing an art project here.

IN CONCLUSION: We have been on the road just one week, we are excited to have found four school systems on the Internet, (Magdalena, Quemado, Ramah, and Zuni). We look foreword to the start of school next month to see how many students get involved. (Vocabulary list for this issue will also be minimal since school hasn't started yet.)

Meanwhile, our initial contacts at Zuni have been very supportive about participating in an art sculpture, so we look foreword to sharing this project with you in the next newsletter.

George & Holly

Our Homepage on the Internet

Let's start at the beginning....

The Internet is basically the link of all computers in the world. "Home pages" are information sites created by individuals or institutions wishing to invite others to learn more about them. We now have a home page where anyone in the world can visit.

Information on home pages is usually in hypertext. This means that certain words lead to more information. These words are usually underlined or italicized. For example, in the sentence: ``The pueblo of Zuni is in McKinley County, New Mexico.'' The word `pueblo' may link to its definition. `Zuni' may link to the history, culture and crafts of the Zuni Indians. `McKinley County' may link to tourist hi-lights, and `New Mexico' may link to state.

Statistics: Our newsletter on the Internet will be in hypertext. Each link will be individually created by New Mexico Tech student volunteers.

Our home page is set up with PAST, PRESENT, and FUTURE PROJECTS which link to the following information:

Past Projects:
The Mexican Adventure (Winter/Spring `94). Both the newsletter and pictures of the finished art projects.

Trail's End (Summer `94). Sculptures for the entryway to the Rodeo grounds for the Village of Magdalena, New Mexico. Photos of this community collaboration were also featured in the April `95 issue of the Smithsonian Magazine.

Einstein (Spring `95). Most recent sculpture for Socorro.

Present Project:
Project New Mexico. Internet followers can find daily updates as to where we are and what's happening. (We might not check in every day, but as often as possible...)

Here people can also ask us questions, and send messages. Students on the Internet can share stories and class projects. The newsletter will offer a vocabulary list and challenge questions that non-Internet students can explore.

Future Projects:
Earthworks (Spring `96). Holly will create a 16' diameter sculpture of the earth for EarthWorks. This sculpture will not have political boundaries, but will emphasize the different habitats and ecosystems of the world. EarthWorks, an extension of the Learning Center, in Kansas City, Missouri, will be a Science Center third and fourth graders. Students will spend the day in a hands on environment learning how the earth works.
Central Europe (Spring `97). Three year trip starting in St. Petersburg, Russia. We will work our way south to spend our first winter in the Middle East, returning to Russia in the spring. The second winter will be spent in India, returning to Siberia in the spring and exiting through China the third winter.

At Pine Hill, we stopped to do laundry. Next door was the Super Market-Fast Food-Video Store all rolled into one. Here we spent a couple hours charging the computer and showing it off to everyone in town.

Water in this area has a very high mineral content. So no one drinks it. Instead people bottle their own filtered water for 35 cents/gallon.

Vocabulary: Do these insects and plants have special symbolism and uses to Native Americans?

local insects we've encountered

local plants & trees


Back to Project New Mexico


Skeleton last modified by zephyr on August 7, 1995 16:07:02.